Send me into a store for a practical pair of shoes and I will come out with suede stiletto boots with fringe.
I posted this comment on Facebook recently and judging by the response from my friends, I realize I struck a chord with both men and women who try to live with good intention. But, like me, sometimes fall short.
I took up yoga this year to find peace with this personal flaw, to overcome feelings of failure as I go through life making the smallest of strides, usually two steps forward and one step back when it comes to staying on course with daily and lifelong goals.
Even with yoga, it has become an internal struggle to do the right thing, to make it to class without coming up with a hundred excuses to blow off another day in the making of a bikini bod.
I look good with some junk in my trunk, I convince myself.
My morning would be better spent cleaning the lint trap on the clothes dryer, I lie.
According to one of my yoga instructors, this is the Bad Wolf talking. If you believe in old Cherokee folklore, there is a Bad Wolf and a Good Wolf inside of us that wage a constant battle against each other. The Bad Wolf is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, dishonesty, and ego. The Good Wolf is kindness, joy, generosity, serenity, humility, empathy, honesty, and diligence. The wolves are strengthened as we feed them. And so it goes, we must be mindful to feed the Good Wolf more than we feed the Bad Wolf so that all that is good within us gains power and ultimately wins our internal battle.
Hence, I’ve been feeding my Good Wolf lots of chocolate. And trying to be more compassionate to my Bad Wolf when he just wants to sit at home and binge watch six seasons of Downton Abbey. Because along with the battle of the wolves, yoga also provides lots of adages for self-acceptance.
My daughter’s generation has it’s own way of unburdening itself when it comes to lapses of good intention. She is of the iGeneration which seems to me to be defined by its absence of angst and self-criticism. A mix of YOLO and winky emoticons and retro-references to Glen Coco; today’s tweens live in a bubble, fed by memes.
My daughter posts #POTD videos on Instagram (“Products of the Day” videos for you Insta-noobs), her personal reviews of candy-scented body mists, DIY lip scrubs and PocketBac hand sanitizers that receive high praise in the way of heart-shaped “likes” from a gaggle of faithful followers, so I tend to go to her for advice on stuff that really matters.
She assures me that wearing practical shoes is overrated. She points to the fact that she and her friends have worn fleece-lined Uggs with shorts for three straight summers. It’s the style that counts, Mom. Because, she says with her signature eye roll and ironic smile, #Goals.
Apparently “#Goals” is like “Totally” back in my day, said in the most sarcastic way. There’s also a hint of “Chillax” in her message to me which all seems a little Spicoli-esque when you think about it–Tasty waves and a cool buzz replaced by VentiⓇ iced chai tea lattes and a selfie stick.
For kicks, the next time I feel conflicted with my priorities, I take a page from the iGen playbook and choose wild abandon rather than prudence, ‘cause, #Goals.
I download Season 3 of Downton Abbey on my cell phone and hunker down in the Walgreens parking lot with a party size bag of Cheetos at 8 a.m. I find that I don’t really mind skipping showers and shirking household duties.
Me and my wolves are dying to see if Lady Sybil elopes with her father’s Irish socialist chauffeur and if Mr. Bates gets hanged for a crime he did not commit. At 2:30, it’s time to pick up my daughter from school. I am 5 episodes in and still rocking the sweatpants I wore to bed the night before. Puffy eyed and emotionally wrung out from a shocking plot twist, I sheepishly wave to the man selling StreetWise near the entrance of the drugstore as I pull out of the parking lot.
My daughter is fine with this, and encourages me to go ahead with Season 4 to find out if Lady Edith keeps her love child, even if it means that we will have to order pizza for dinner rather than eat the quinoa kale casserole that I had planned to make. Sweet (and devious) child that she is.
My obsession with the show grows and I curse the friends who breathlessly told me, “YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT!” But why? Lady Mary is as shallow as Kim Kardashian. And the class politics of the day are maddening.
Then, midway through the series, I realize that I am drawn to more than the show’s soap opera plot lines, breathtaking set design, and Matthew Crawley’s dreamy blue eyes. As Lord Grantham, his family, and the servants of Downton Abbey grapple with post-war realities in the early 1900’s, it strikes me that we share the same feelings of melancholy and sun-dappled hope.
I am completely immersed in this post-Edwardian melodrama as winter thaws into spring. It is the season in which I always find myself overcome by moments of sadness. It is a time for new beginnings and yet I pause for somber reflection. Try as I might, I can’t see the daisies through the dandelions. I wade through this weedy patch, confused by my inability to fully embrace the splendor of my surroundings.
Finally, I make the connection. I realize that it was this same time, many years ago, I lay dying. As the world around me bloomed, I withered away in a coma.
Spring 1986. A season, for me, of absolute nothingness. A time in which I have described as a void, as having no darkness and no light. No sense of existing or ever having existed. My body, in its suspended state, merely an appliance with no power.
I have challenged myself to write about the experience again and again in order to glean some personal understanding of it, and also a larger truth. My blog has unwittingly turned into a meditation on this theme: How, then, to lead a purpose-driven life?
Let’s be honest, most of us will not build monuments. We will not broker world peace or cure cancer. We will not be plucked from anonymity to superstardom after Usher sees us performing a Justin Bieber song on YouTube. Most of us will carry on as plow horse or worker bee. We will pass on traits and traditions. We will provide for our families. We will attempt some connection with our community and perhaps seek small ways to mark our existence long past our last breath. And despite our efforts, we are all “just a drop of water in an endless sea.”*
Frankly, the thought puts me in a philosophical funk. It seems fitting that I relate to the characters of Downton Abbey on their return from The Battle of the Somme, to those who have survived great odds, who make wistful references to “before the war” and take notice of meaningless protocol and misguided priorities amidst the backdrop of a beautiful estate. I continue to question the point (or pointlessness) of it all. It is now, as with every spring, I hold on to these thoughts with a tuber-like perseverance, weighing faith and fate, as shoots push through the softened earth and take shape, hoping for bloom not blight.
To this, Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, says, “All this endless thinking. It’s very overrated.”
Apropos to nothing, my daughter adds, “And dessert before dinner!” Then whips and nae-naes her way around the kitchen in celebration of such a pleasurable concept.
Then I head off to yoga and set my intention–Which today shall be to survive a 105 degree Hot Power Fusion class without passing out.
Afterwards I plan to go shoe shopping and buy whatever footwear so moves me.
Special thanks to my creative and insightful daughter, Kevyn, for letting me poke fun at her in this post. She has taught me important life lessons on how to use Snapchat to superimpose my face with a rainbow-barfing unicorn. She has explained to me what BAE stands for and has coached me on how to pout and throw a peace sign while posing for a photo. She has assigned me a spirit animal and led me to the mother of all time suck activities: Pinterest.
*“Dust in the Wind” by Kansas; Songwriter: LIVGREN, KERRY; Dust In The Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Categories: My Posts